SEAHAWKS PLAYER TO WATCH: QB Geno Smith. It’s the start of life without Russell Wilson in the short term for Seattle following finger surgery. Smith looked great in the fourth quarter last week against the Rams but this will be his first start since Dec. 3, 2017 when he was with the Giants.
STEELERS PLAYER TO WATCH: RB Najee Harris. The rookie is coming off the first 100-yard game of his career (122 yards), a number that might have been even higher if a cramping issue didn’t sideline him in the fourth quarter. Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin said the main issue for Harris is hydration, something the team will have to do a more effective job of monitoring going forward.
KEY MATCHUP: Pittsburgh secondary against Seattle WR DK Metcalf. Pittsburgh’s once-formidable defense has looked ordinary at best during the team’s rocky 2-3 start. Metcalf’s five receiving TDs rank second in the league and he will face a Steelers secondary that has struggled to stop deep shots down the field.
KEY INJURIES: Aside from Wilson, the Seahawks’ biggest question surrounds RB Chris Carson (neck). Carson sat out last week vs. Los Angeles, improved over the weekend and was expected to practice ahead of the trip. … Steelers WR JuJu Smith-Schuster is out for the season after undergoing right shoulder surgery. … DB Cam Sutton (groin), LB Devin Bush (groin) and WR James Washington (hamstring) practiced this week and should play. Sutton and Washington both sat out against Denver.
SERIES NOTES: The Seahawks have won the last two meetings, including the 2019 victory at Heinz Field in which Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger went down with a season-ending right elbow injury at halftime. Metcalf caught the first NFL touchdown of his career in the victory, a 28-yard reception in the fourth quarter that sealed the win. … The Steelers are 7-3 against Seattle in Pittsburgh.
STATS AND STUFF: The Seahawks have allowed 450 yards or more in each of the past four games, tying an NFL record. … Wilson had started 165 consecutive games, regular season and playoffs combined. … LB Bobby Wagner leads the NFC with 58 tackles. … Smith’s previous start against Pittsburgh came as a rookie with the New York Jets in 2013 when he threw for 201 yards and two interceptions in a 19-6 loss. … The Steelers are coming off their best rushing performance (147 yards) since a win over Cincinnati on Nov. 24, 2019. … Pittsburgh’s embattled offensive line allowed just one sack and two quarterback hits on Roethlisberger, the lowest total in each category this season. … The Steelers’ defense, second in the league in takeaways in 2020 (27), has just four through five games.
FANTASY TIP: With Smith-Schuster out, expect Steelers WR Chase Claypool to have more balls thrown his way, especially against the league’s worst defense. The second-year wideout is coming off his best performance of the season, catching five passes for 130 yards and a score in the win over Denver.